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How do you pronounce the clover-like key ?

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2  
And was there a typographical name for this symbol before Apple adopted it? –  GEdgar Jul 28 '11 at 15:44
    
See the Wikipedia link in my answer. –  David Jul 28 '11 at 16:12
7  
command, flower, apple key, open-apple key, meta key, doily, Gorgon loop, Saint John's Arms, Saint Hannes cross, quadfinity, cloverleaf, splat, splodge, overpass, butterfly, squiggle, beanie, cauliflower, curly-do, propeller, pretzel, rugbeater, shamrock, twiddle, infinite loop, U+2318, place of interest sign, puppy print, ⌘, Bowen knot, MacKey... –  kokbira Jul 28 '11 at 18:08
    
Wow, never expected so many answers. I think Apple missed the consistency boat here :-). When the removed the apple sign from the key a few years back, they'd better done the opposite and removed the clover/doily/... and left only the Apple sign on it. Then, such a Babelonic confusion would have been much, much less likely. And it would have been much easier to tell new users which key to press. –  Rabarberski Jul 29 '11 at 7:04

12 Answers 12

up vote 26 down vote accepted

It's called the Command key, abbreviated as Cmd.

Common nicknames are "clover" or "butterfly".

The symbol is based on one used on signs in Swedish campgrounds to note a place of interest; Susan Kare of the original Mac team located it in a international symbol dictionary while looking for something to replace the Apple logo, which Steve Jobs felt was being overused. (The whole story is on Folklore.org.)

On the Apple II, the keyboard featured open-Apple (an outline) and closed-Apple (filled in) keys beside the space bar. On early Macs, the same key had both the Command symbol and an Apple logo printed on it, and so some people carried over the terminology and continued to call it the Apple key.

On newer Macs, the Apple logo has been removed, and the key features only the command symbol and the text "command".

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1  
From your link "...looking for an appropriate symbol that [...] had at least something to do with the concept of a menu command [...] she came across a floral symbol that was used in Sweden to indicate an interesting feature or attraction in a campground". I fail to see how that ever had to do with the notion of a command. –  Rabarberski Jul 29 '11 at 14:35
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You'll have to take that up with Susan Kare. Since she was working in 1983, it's unlikely that any existing symbol would be a perfect fit. –  benzado Jul 29 '11 at 15:48
    
@Rabarberski I don't know whether it was intended by Apple, but I learnt to experiment with the alt key when seeking an alternative to, or variation on, a command. Similarly I imagine that users found features attractive, or interesting, whilst touring Macintosh in a normal (less alternative) way, with the key. –  Graham Perrin Aug 3 '11 at 12:07
    
wiki Saint John's Arms: In modern times, the symbol is commonly found in Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden as an indicator of cultural locations. Here in Finland it's commonly known as the "museum sign". –  Lri Aug 5 '11 at 13:34

Actually the use of the Butterfly Key was in retaliation of IBM, and of the slavery early programers associated with Big Blue(IBM) as an oligarchic company bent on suppressing of new ideas and of the casual freedoms that the Bay Area was known for so they did away with the oppressive "Command Key" and thus gave it a splat, butterfly or whatever you want to call it.

The idea was to be liberated and not controlled. Which is funny since Apple literally controlled every aspect of their early computer architecture and squashed any freedom to developers to give the Mac OS the power or the programs it needed.

But the Butterfly is a statement, not a reality.

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When I worked at Apple (1992-1997), quite a large proportion of the engineers called it "the propeller key". The suits almost always called it "the command key", and viewed the engineer's nomenclature as being disrespectful or merely irreverent.

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In Sweden you often hear runa (rune, which is somewhat related to the historic origin for the use on Swedish road signs) or kringla (pretzel, based on the shape) for this symbol when used in Mac context.

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I call it "mela", which just means "apple" in italian.

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I call it the "church" key

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I've been a Mac user since 1988, and I've always called it (and heard it referred to as) "butterfly."

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It was originally known as the "Places of Interest" symbol used in Northern Europe on maps and such.

Here's some history on it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_John%27s_Arms

But when I tell people to press it I say "command".

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It used to be called "Splat", but sadly that has fallen out of use.

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3  
Most people who use the term "splat" typographically mean the glyph "*". –  Dan Ray Jul 28 '11 at 20:58

I usually say "command", but I've also heard it pronounced doily

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As above, "Command" is the usual name. For some context, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Command_key

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This is usually called the "command" key. Others just call it the "apple" key...

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It actually says "command" on the key for me (but I think that is no longer the case for all keyboards). –  Thilo Jul 29 '11 at 3:11
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Actually, Apple only started printing "command" on the key a few years ago. –  benzado Jul 29 '11 at 4:52
    
Yep there use to be an open-apple where the word "command " is printed now. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apple_key.jpg –  MrDaniel Feb 23 '12 at 21:25

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